Visual Encyclopedia

Cave painting

Cave paintings are also known as "parietal art".They are painted drawings on cave walls or ceilings, mainly of prehistoric origin, dated to some 40,000 years ago (around 38,000 BCE) in Eurasia. The exact purpose of the Paleolithic cave paintings is not known. Evidence suggests that they were not merely decorations of living areas since the caves in which they have been found do not have signs of ongoing habitation. They are also often located in areas of caves that are not easily accessible. Some theories hold that cave paintings may have been a way of communicating with others, while other theories ascribe a religious or ceremonial purpose to them. The paintings are remarkably similar around the world, with animals being common subjects that give the most impressive images. Humans mainly appear as images of hands, mostly hand stencils made by blowing pigment on a hand held to the wall.

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According to research done by Professor Dean Snow, an anthropologist from Pennsylvania State University, using a specific set of formulas based off of the hands of modern men, and women has allowed him to determine that the majority, around 75%, of the painted handprints in European caves can be attributed to women. Interestingly, it was also found that while today, the sizes of men's, and women's hands overlap too much for the formulas to be completely reliable, the hands determined to be male, and female from the cave paintings were either at, or beyond the extremes of their counterparts today. Females of the time were, by the formula, indistinguishable in hand size from adolescent males, with fairly small hands, and the only factors differentiating between the two being the digit ratio. Adult men on the other hand had exceptionally large hands, with exaggerated features compared to modern adult men, whose hands are also smaller. It was always assumed that all of the paintings were done by men, due to the majority of paintings being hunting scenes, and depicting explicitly male individuals, but this shows that at least a majority of the handprint paintings were of women.

Contributed by Sean Gay

Cave people are real. they have created many unique painting on the walls and ceilings. READ MORE.

Contributed by Lynn Elise

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